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Turkey Painting Itself Into a Corner in Syria

17 Mai 2017

As they prepare for the offensive in Raqqa, the Islamic State's de facto Syrian capital, the Americans have told Turkey that the YPG will not be permitted to stay in the city but will turn over control to Arab elements that are part of the combined, us -backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

The decision was announced last Tuesday as Turkish officials, including the commander of the Turkish Armed Forces, the head of Turkey's intelligence agency, and one of Erdogan's top advisers were still in Washington laying the groundwork for the meeting between the two presidents.

Meanwhile, Turkey has also pushed ahead with an increasingly close relationship with Russia's President Vladimir Putin to the alarm of its Western allies.

On the night of July 15-16, 2016, an attempted coup by members of the Turkish army, aimed at toppling Erdogan, left nearly 250 people dead.

The Turks expressed fury at the US arms supply announcement.

"We have sent a delegation ahead to the USA, and they have held meetings with officials", Erdogan said before he headed to China en route to Washington.

Turkish dissidents in the United States say they do not expect a breakthrough for Erdogan's extradition demand during his visit with Trump.

Such groups will "have no safe quarter", Trump said in the White House's historic Roosevelt Room, where he also commended Turkey's "leadership in seeking an end to the horrific killing in Syria". In an interview with the Financial Times last week, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim struck a more conciliatory tone after receiving assurances from U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that the committed to protecting Turkey. "If the alliance is to be overshadowed we'll have to sort things out for ourselves", Erdogan told reporters on Sunday, according to the pro-government Sabah newspaper.

Starting last August, Turkey conducted its seven-month cross-border Euphrates Shield operation in northern Syria with local rebels under the Free Syrian Army banner, capturing several cities from IS. The conflict between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries (mostly between the USA and the European Union from the one hand and Turkey from the other) has been brewing for a long time.

Even if Ankara could get USA courts to act, a quick decision in the Gulen case was unlikely, Arslan said via e-mail. Turkish officials have insisted that the only acceptable option for the USA -led worldwide coalition is to partner with Turkey's own forces.

The decision gives the Pentagon clearance to arm the entire Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, a USA -backed coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters dominated by the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), making gains against ISIS in northern Syria. The letter borrows heavily from talking points the Turkish Presidency used previously.

Raqqa is almost isolated, Davis said, noting the bridges that cross the Euphrates River have been disabled. These are terrorist organizations.

Turkey has been pressuring the drop support for the Kurdish militants in Syria for years and doesn't want them spearheading the Raqqa effort. "We will storm and liberate (Raqqa) city", Qahraman Hassan told AFP. "They've been saying that for a year now". The opposition has suggested that Erdoğan should have canceled the meeting with Trump. Besides, Turkey's wish for a role at the expense of the Kurds further complicates the problem.

Military leaders frequently say the objective is to annihilate IS, and for the most part the jihadists have fought to the death rather than surrender to security forces in neighboring Iraq or the SDF in Syria.

Also Saturday, activists reported that Syrian government forces were able to regain control of an air base in the northern province of Aleppo from Islamic State militants.

Turkey Painting Itself Into a Corner in Syria